FAA reconsidering line of sight requirements on drone regulations

Good news for companies hoping to move ahead with their vision of deliveries by drone! The FAA has acknowledged that changes need to be made to the "line of sight" requirements, or the rule that states commercial drones must stay with the field of view of the operator during flight. This comes from Jim Williams, head of the FAA's office that oversees drones flying in US airspace, who made the statement at the Drones, Data X conference on Friday.

Laws currently require drone operators to fly within line of sight, but the FAA is already working on revised regulations, a follow-up to the proposed rules put forth in February. "We understand there's a lot of value in flying out of line of sight and that's one of the areas we're looking to get ahead rapidly in the next few years," Williams said.

Unfortunately for Amazon, this is too little, far too late. Shortly after the FAA gave the company permission to conduct delivery drone test flights, Amazon snapped back that the government had taken for too long, especially in comparison to the number of countries that gave approval within a month or two.

Even for companies other than Amazon looking to get into commercial drone flights, the wait is far from over. Williams admitted that starting from this point in the revision process, it's expected to take the FAA another 16 months to finalize their drone regulations.

As for solutions to the line of sight issue, two promising technologies seem to be key to the solution. In their current state, first-person view goggles are said to be too limiting to peripheral vision, but Williams says that future versions could be approved, if they're able to provide a wider field of view. Another option is simply sensor technology applied to drones, one day allowing them to automatically detect and avoid collisions with other aircraft.

Williams summed up the FAA concerns as primarily being "if you can see your aircraft, if you can see other aircraft, and you can get out of the way." So any developments that aid in these requirements should lead to better experiences for commercial drone operators.

SOURCE Mashable